Cool, Crude Party Dudes, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi
For decades, the American theatrical animated film has been shackled with transformative tales of an animal or anthropomorphic kitchen utensil on a Campbellian quest to regain their friends or family for the sole purpose of wringing tears, or possibly an Oscar nod, out of the audience. Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, directed by Steve Stark of Smodimation fame, is more akin to the early works of Ralph Bakshi. Like Raphael of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the animation and subject matter is cool but crude and will definitely appeal to party dudes.
Scripted by filmmaker and social media master Kevin Smith from his graphic novel Bluntman and Chronic from 2001, Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie tells the origin story of the titular duo and their clashes with the League of Shitters. If you watched Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back and wished the entire movie was about the movie within a movie featured towards that’s film’s climax, you’ll be pleased as punch here. Directed Steve Stark works with character designs that are a cross between Ren & Stimpy and The Simpsons. Although the animation is limited, it’s no worse than what you’d see on an animated series on Adult Swim or Comedy Central. The music by James L. Venable and songs by MC Chris are both epic and catchy, helping the film really feel like a super hero toking tale of derring-do.
Some of the jokes betray the source material’s 2001 origin. The League of Shitters consists of a quartet of villains who all gained their powers from falling into different vats of acid. One of the supervillains is named Newsgroup. In one of a few meta moments, an animated version of Kevin Smith himself interrupts the story to confess that Mark Hamill was not able to reprise his role as the villainous large fisted Cock-Knocker. Instead, the role is voiced by the squeaky, sped-up vocals of Tara Strong. It’s a joke that totally took me out of the movie. I would have rather seen the role voiced by a sound-alike or just rewritten as a different character entirely.
As the credits rolled, a guy sitting next to me in the audience shook his head and lamented “how juvenile” the film was, but he was missing the point. Much like John Hughes, the screenplays of Kevin Smith are not all heartfelt, emotionally resonant dramas. Hughes might have written The Breakfast Club, but he also wrote Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. The creative team of director Steve Stark, producer Jason Mewes, and writer Kevin Smith are aiming for something more along the lines of a Mallrats than a Chasing Amy and it works perfectly within that wheelhouse. I laughed heartily several times. It may not be quite as sharp as the short-lived Clerks: The Animated Series, but it’s a cinematic bowl Kevin Smith and Smodcast fans will want to fire up all